Heroic pooch saves stricken owner

Maria and Steve Ardley always knew their rescue dog was special, but little did they expect her to turn out to be a lifesaver.However, last night three-year-old Alea was hailed a hero after she alerted Mr Ardley to the fact his wife had collapsed with a brain aneurysm as she washed her hair.

Maria and Steve Ardley always knew their rescue dog was special, but little did they expect her to turn out to be a lifesaver.

Last night, three-year-old Alea was hailed a hero after she alerted Mr Ardley to the fact his wife had collapsed as she washed her hair.

Alea sensed something was wrong and went to find Mr Ardley, before pushing him towards the closed bathroom door and running round in circles.

Former Lowestoft mayor Mr Ardley pushed the door open and found his wife unconscious on the floor, without any sign of a pulse.

He gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and got her breathing again before she was rushed to hospital by paramedics.

Nearly two weeks on, Mrs Ardley, who had suffered a brain aneurysm, is doing well at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, and is expected to make a full recovery.

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Mr Ardley, 53, said: "I went to watch the news and the dog jumped up and pushed me back towards the bathroom.

"She ran round in circles in front of the door and it was then I knew something wasn't right, although I didn't in my wildest dreams realise what I would find.

"The bottom line is if Alea hadn't alerted me to something being wrong, my wife would have died on the bathroom floor.

"As far as I am concerned, my dog saved my wife's life."

Mrs Ardley, 50, who served as Lowestoft mayoress alongside her husband from 2004-05, underwent surgery to repair the ruptured blood vessel in her brain and is now able to walk and talk, and has not suffered any apparent long-term damage.

Mr Ardley, who lives in Lowestoft and serves as a councillor on Waveney District Council, said: "The doctors have said she is on the road to a full recovery. A few minutes later, she would have suffered brain damage or I would have lost her."

He added that doctors said that with the type of aneurysm his wife had been struck down by, about 15pc of patients could expect to come through totally unscathed.

The Ardleys, who have three sons and three grandchildren, took on Alea, a cross-breed of collie, corgi and Jack Russell, from an animal shelter when she was just eight weeks old.

"I paid a £100 donation when we got her and it's the best £100 I've ever invested," added Mr Ardley, a former soldier, who now runs the Lowestoft Auction Rooms, in Pinbush Road.

"You hear about dogs saving and rescuing people, and see it in the films, but now it has happened for real to us. My wife wants the whole world to know that her dog is a little hero."

Speaking from her hospital bed, Mrs Ardley, who is a training adviser for carers, said: "I didn't know anything about it until afterwards, but I am definitely proud of Alea and I'm missing her very much.

"I was shocked when I heard what she had done. I always knew she was special, but I didn't know how special."

Dr Roger Mugford, head of the animal behaviour centre at Chertsey, in Surrey, said the combination of breeds was ideal for the behaviour displayed by Alea.

"Alea is the best cross-breed you can get," he said. "Dogs are really switched on to different aspects of our behaviour. They can anticipate epileptic seizures and when someone is going to fall into a diabetic coma.

"They are just incredibly insightful into the physical abilities and disabilities of human beings. It means they should be a fully paid-up asset within the NHS."

Mr Ardley praised paramedics for helping his wife.

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